From scrappy startups to major technology brands, some of the most innovative work we do at Uncorked comes through helping our partners imagine the future through concept product design and development. While these projects provide an exciting mix of creative and technological challenge, the reality of working on these future-facing products means we don’t often get to talk about them outside the walls of Uncorked.
Make it your own.
By their nature, these projects often find us working with technology that is brand new, even completely custom. This, combined with the quick and intense pace around research and development efforts, helps to create new foundations of institutional expertise and creative energy.
Occasionally, rather than hand off our work product and turn immediately to the next challenge, we let this newfound knowledge and energy play out in the form of our own, internal projects. In this case that project is a sandbox.
Iterate. Make it better. Start over. Iterate again.
Inspired by a video of a UC Davis project surrounding education for earth science, and working with a depth sensing interface system we’d developed for a client, Sandbox is an interactive display that responds in real-time to shapes and heights created by users playing with the sand.
Sounds fun, right? Well, it is.
The first version functioned as a topographical map. As sand is pushed and stacked to create peaks and valleys, the projection displays the correct color based on the height, showing blue for low depths, green in the mid ranges, and red for the top ones. The result is a dynamic data visualization that changes with each user interaction.
But with everything we do, we like to approach things iteratively. So we kept going.
Pushing the concept even further, our next version used the shape of the sand as the interface for a giant audio mixer. Users can chose an audio track, then adjust the volume of individual instruments and the track tempo simply by playing with the sand—creating different peaks and valleys. As the audio changes, the custom animations projected on the sand change along with it.
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Sandbox started as simply a fun experiment, but the result became an interactive experience that provides an interesting new way of thinking about how a physical input can affect a digital output. The effect is intuitively easy to grasp at a high level, yet generates nuanced output that keeps the experience engaging beyond the initial interaction.
And while the project was initiated by one small experiment, it quickly became a company-wide affair that continues to involve more and more people. We’ve now demoed Sandbox for Uber PDX’s open house and during a visit from Congressman Blumenauer, and also shown the project that served as its inspiration to Mayor Charlie Hales. We’ve even taken it on the road!
If you’re interested in learning more about how we built the sandbox and the technology that went into it, check out our blog post about it here.
Presented at NewTech PDX
A repurposing of skills and excitement from a project that we couldn’t talk about publicly—we took the themes and things we learned and chased our passion down a different rabbit hole